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Storytelling is an ancient art, so why is it suddenly a top trend in marketing? What exactly does the term “storytelling” mean to us as marketers of quality services?

Should we be gathering our stakeholders around the fire to roast marshmallows and tell scary tales? Or sending out riveting reports of what happened at the office BBQ the other day? Mmmm….no. While those scenarios may be entertaining in their own right, you’re goal should be to make sure that your storytelling has a purpose for its intended audience.

But first, you may be asking, “why should we be interested in storytelling at all?” Well, here’s the answer for organizations that want to grow and spread a positive message:

circle1Good storytelling empowers, entertains and engages your audience.

The current movement in storytelling is to empower your audience with positive evidence and experiences of how your programs are changing lives. This is a stark contrast to “pain-point” marketing,  which had traditionally focused on selling products or services by showing a void in people’s lives. This is good news for organizations that are dedicated to society. The fact is, you already have an empowering message to spread.

circle2Good Storytelling conveys what you do and the values of your organization through the experience of an individual — making your message more relatable to others.

Understanding the unique voice of your organization is of the utmost importance when it comes to storytelling. Remember, you are talking to PEOPLE, and your message should display that awareness. If you want your audience to understand you, be clear with them, and speak their language without hesitation. Too many organizations and companies use vague mission statements or industry-specific jargon to drive their storytelling, when all people really want is straight talk. Know your voice, use your voice, and keep it simple. You are introducing and reinforcing the power of each success story you tell.

circle3Demonstrates how your “gift” can help your audience solve a problem.

The “how” we’re referring to can also be described as the “gift” that you give to your readers. Let’s show an example here. Somebody who is trying to lose weight may want start running. They are the hero of the story. They know they face a long, arduous road to getting in shape. It’s going to be hard to achieve there goal. Enter Nike. Their gift is shoes, clothes, watches, wristbands, etc. that will make the journey “easier” to accomplish. Their entire business is built upon empowering athletes – professional and otherwise – to reach their goals and achieve the dream of being their most healthy and physically fit selves.

Now, chances are your particular audience isn’t a manufacturer or shoes, apparel or workout gear. But your storytelling should work in the same way. If you are an organization that offers support for victims of abuse, your gift to donors is the confidence that their support is enabling the resources to help people achieve their need of safety, security, and healing. If you are an organization that gives community members access to healthcare, your gift is providing the care and the wellness resources to strengthen individuals and communities.

The moral of our tale: every organization that does something great has a great story to tell, so get started today and watch your audience become more engaged.

Gathering Stories

Getting your storytelling started doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are 3 Things you can do to boost your storytelling content:

  1. Start with a “Plot:” Once you decide on which program or product on which you will focus, identify a client, customer, volunteer or partner whose ‘story’ illustrates the impact and the need. How does their path mirror the goals of your program?
  2. Get everybody involved! Reach out within your organization to gather stories from the people within. Often it is your own front line staff who know your clients best, and already are aware how your organization has changed individual lives. Collect Testimonials: Ask your subjects what brought them to your organization and what their lives would be like without you.
  3. Take Photos (or video): These days, great storytelling requires a visual element. Behind the scenes and event photos can do just that, so build your bank of visual resources to give an extra boost to your storytelling.


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